Sri Lanka bombing: Country’s troubled history marked by religious divide and war

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Deadly explosions strike across Sri Lanka

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Deadly explosions strike across Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan news outlet NewsFirst reported Sunday night that police in the capital city of Colombo, where numerous bombs exploded on Easter, had seized a van and arrested its driver in apparent connection to the bombings.

On Sunday afternoon, the seventh and eighth blast occurred at a hotel in front of the Dehiwala Zoo in Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia and at a private house in Mahawila Gardens, in Dematagoda, during a raid in connection with the attacks, officials said.

"We must stand up for the right of everyone, no matter what their religion, to practise their faith in peace".

"While this goes on we must also look into why adequate precautions were not taken", he said.

More than 200 people were killed and at least 450 injured in bomb blasts that ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the first major attack on the Indian Ocean island since the end of a civil war 10 years ago.

"Thoughts are with the victims and their relatives".

Countries around the world condemned the attacks, and Pope Francis added an appeal at the end of his traditional Easter Sunday blessing to address the massacre.

The Catholic Church in Jerusalem had said in an earlier statement: "We pray for the souls of the victims and ask for speedy recovery of the injured, and ask God to inspire the terrorists to repent of their killing and intimidation".

Nearly 30 minutes later, he replaced the erroneous tweet and wrote: "138 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, with more that 600 badly injured, in a terrorist attack on churches and hotels".

Three Britons and two holding joint United States and British nationalities were killed, Sri Lankan authorities said, and the grim death toll could rise further.

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"New Zealand condemns all acts of terrorism, and our resolve has only been strengthened by the attack on our soil on the 15th of March". Places of worship are sacred, where all should feel safe and secure. "138 million! More than the population of Sri Lanka".

Two Chinese nationals were injured, the country's embassy in Sri Lanka said, according to Beijing's official Xinhua news agency. "At this hard time, I affirm our solidarity with the government and people of Sri Lanka and assure our support in the fight against terrorism".

Narendra Modi, the leader of neighbouring India, condemmned the "serial terrorist attacks" in a government statement.

"Easter is a reminder that there is hope and rebirth even in the darkest of times".

The spokeswoman did not give a figure for the Britons killed, but a government ministry source said London was aware of at least five British fatalities. Easter is the holiest day of the Christian calendar. "Pakistan stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in their hour of grief".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "religious hate and intolerance that have showed themselves in such a awful way today must not win".

Two other suspected suicide bombers, who reportedly carried out the attacks on the Shangri La hotel and a church in Batticaloa, have reportedly been identified as Zahran Hashim and Abu Mohammed, according to News 18.

"I expect that the masterminds and perpetrators of such a heinous and cynical crime committed in the midst of Easter celebrations will get the punishment they deserve".

Wickremesinghe said his government would "vest all necessary powers with the defense forces" to take action against those responsible for the attacks, "regardless of their stature".

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